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Viktor Orbán, Putin's Trojan Horse In Europe

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is trying to keep the EU and NATO happy without upsetting Vladimir Putin. The war in Ukraine has upped the stakes in Hungary, where tense elections are just a few weeks away.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been engaging in political contortionism in recent weeks to keep his country in the sphere of the EU and NATO without provoking Vladimir Putin. Less than a month before the elections in which Orbán and his Fidesz party will try to keep a majority against a unified opposition, the Hungarian leader maintains his camaraderie with Putin in the midst of the war that is ravaging Ukraine.

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Budapest yesterday authorized the parking and passage of the alliance’s forces through its territory but prohibited the transport of lethal weapons and equipment to Ukraine.

In an extensive official statement, Orbán made it clear between the lines that he does not want to be an enemy of Russia and Putin. “We have to look at this conflict not with American, French or German eyes, we have to look at it with Hungarian eyes. And from the Hungarian point-of-view, the most important thing in this conflict is the peace and security of the Hungarians. To do this, we must stay out of the war." In reference to his administration's denial of arms transit, he declared: "Against those who use these weapons, we will be their enemies."

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A Weird 2021 : Our Favorite "What The World" Stories

Tales of odds and ends from deep inside the world's newspapers....


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Why Africa Has So Few Nobel Prizes In The Sciences

Even as it celebrates this year's literature prize going to Tanzanian author Abdulrazak Gurnah, Africa is again completely absent from the list of Nobel winners in science. In research as elsewhere, money is the key.

Nobel Prize recipients from around the world have been celebrating their achievements this month at their respective award ceremonies. But besides Tanzanian Abdulrazak Gurnah, winner in the literature category, the African continent was largely absent from the awards — most notably in the science categories. But this is nothing new.

With the notable exception of Egypt, which boasts a Nobel Prize in chemistry, and South Africa, which has five in chemistry, physiology and medicine, over the years Africa only has obtained Nobel Prizes for literature or peace. By comparison, the United States leads the way with 296 laureates, followed by Germany and Japan, with 94 and 25 awards respectively.

Many would be tempted to find the explanation for this poor African performance in a lack of "predisposition for science" or "scientific spirit" among our people. This is not the case: The capacity to produce scientific breakthroughs and to make discoveries does not lie in any "superior intelligence," in a supposed "genius," in alleged "genetic predispositions," or in the culture of the people.

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How Europe Can Avoid Viktor Orbán's Trap, And Save Its Soul

If Europe is to stand firm against Viktor Orbán's illiberal and anti-establishment policies, scapegoating him or excluding him from the EU risks consolidating his hold over his fellow citizens

-Analysis-

PARIS — "Tact in audacity," Jean Cocteau famously said, "is knowing how far you can go without going too far." By enacting a repressive and retrograde law on homosexuality, has Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán gone too far? Or is he setting a trap for us by deliberately choosing a topic that is so emotionally charged in our society? He may present himself as the vanguard of a counter-revolution in the area of morality.

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Hungary
Philipp Fritz

The Hate And Cynicism Of Orban's Anti-LGBT Law

The EU parliament has passed a resolution that condemns Hungary’s anti-LGBT law and could allow them to initiate legal action against the Hungarian government. The potentially life-threatening consequences of the law are already clear.

-Analysis-

Over the last two weeks, there has been a wave of outrage against the Hungarian government. Politicians in Brussels and across Europe have spoken out against the country's new anti-LGBT law, which aims to drastically restrict information about and representation of sexual minorities, whether in school textbooks or films. Many critics are concerned that homosexual and trans people will be pushed even further to the edges of society.

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LA STAMPA
Mattia Feltri

Viktor Orban, Xi Jinping And A Simple Question For The West

The basic precepts of democracy, recently on the line in Washington, have long been discarded by Europe Union member country Hungary. But is anyone pure on such questions these days?

ROME — As the world watches Joe Biden's first days in the White House, Viktor Orbán is going strong in Hungary. You may remember he forced the liberal Central European University, founded by his favorite super-villain, George Soros, to leave Budapest between 2017 and 2018, in his quest to create an "illiberal democracy." Now Orbán has recently welcomed a new university to its capital: the Chinese University of Fudan.

It's a prestigious university, as international rankings attest. It will finally have a seat in Europe: a beautiful campus that is expected to house some 6,000 students in economics, international relations, medicine — all trained according to academic criteria that exclude freedom of thought, expunged from the statute and replaced with loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party led by Xi Jinping. Orbán may be a right-wing populist, but when given the chance, he sure knows how to open borders. Orbán had also borrowed money from Beijing to renovate the Budapest-Belgrade railway line.

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LA STAMPA
Mattia Feltri

George Soros' 20th Century History Lessons For Viktor Orban

The European Court of Justice has squashed the law that forced George Soros and his Central European University (CEU) to leave Budapest. It brought up ghosts from near and distant pasts.

I won't give you all the details on the law — it's a hodgepodge — but, the Court says, it's a hodgepodge that violates the fundamental rights of academic freedom.


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Hungary
Silke Mülherr

Viktor From The East: Beware The Orbanization Of Europe

-OpEd-

Viktor Orban was beaming on the evening of his victory this past weekend, which brought him his fourth term as Prime Minister. The Hungarian loves the taste of success. But what he loves, even more, is to triumph over those whom he believes feel superior to him. This says much about a Hungarian inferiority complex that doesn't just affect the Prime Minister. Hungary's history is filled with decades and centuries under foreign rule. For centuries, the land of the Hungarian people was a battlefield between the Ottoman and the Habsburg empires.

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blog
Bertrand Hauger

Steppe Into The Spotlight

In the puszta grassland valley of eastern Hungary, this csikós wrangler was just warming up before performing an incredible stunt show on galloping horses.

blog
Bertrand Hauger

Goodbye, Hungarian Plague

The twisted Trinity Column in Sopron, northwestern Hungary, is what they call a "plague pillar." It was erected to give thanks, in the late 17th century, for the end of one of the various recurrences of the Black Death that struck central Europe over the years.

Hungary
Stephane Kovacs

Reverse Migration? Germans Move To Orban’s Hungary To Flee Immigrants

Up close with some of the growing numbers of Germans settling in Hungary, a country that has shut out refugees from the Middle East.

MARCALI — A room downstairs for grandpa, and three upstairs for the family. Outside, a flower garden for Bonny the dog, and above all, peace and quiet. Just a month ago, the Brandt family came to Hungary for the first time and discovered, in the gleaming sunshine, Lake Balaton. Five days later, they bought a quaint wooden house on the edge of Marcali, a little village 15 kilometers from the lake.

The Brandts are not the only Germans to find a second home in the very conservative Hungary of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as they sought cheaper, but also "safer" lives, which they finally admit is a motivating factor. Ottmar Heide, a local real estate agent, does not hesitate: "Eight out of 10 of my German customers are fleeing the mass arrival of migrants in Germany," he declares. Heide says his German customers regularly complain about Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee policy. "They don't want to live in fear anymore, surrounded by radical Muslims," he adds.

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Hungary
Alexenia Dimitrova

Liberty v. Nation, Anatomy Of Europe’s Democratic Recession

-OpEd-

PARIS — "The era of multiculturalism is over ..."

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Hungary
Paul Lendvai

How Orban Is Trying To Take Europe Away From Merkel

Viktor Orban is the only leader in the European Union who has benefited from the refugees crisis. But his ambitions know no boundaries.

BERLIN — For the first time since his momentous victory six years ago, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has tasted a political defeat. The failure of the referendum that aimed to block required European Union allocations of refugees fell short of the necessary 50% turnout at the polls. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to make too much of the political consequences for Orban of this setback.

Lightening fast and powerfully eloquent, he has turned the fiasco into a "tremendous political success," noting that 98% of those who did vote were opposed to the EU refugee policy, and vowing to block any future decisions from Brussels regarding the refugees question.

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Hungary
Andreas Zielcke

Orban's Law: When National Identity Is Warped By Fear Of The Other

Who are we? A referendum in Hungary raises fundamental questions in the West about how the fear of otherness turns culture into a weapon in the hands of populists.

Hungary will hold a referendum on Sunday to decide whether to take in refugees. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's views on the resettling migrants is already well known — "We are talking about the essence of Hungarian identity. That is, simply put, threatened by the migration policies of Brussels."

Orbán's colleagues in the Visegrád group — an alliance of Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia — share his fears about migrants. But in addition to this central European group, Western European nations are also seeing populist movements. "The ghettos, the ethnic conflicts, political and religious provocation are a direct consequence of a massive immigration movement, which threatens our national identity," France's National Front warns on its official website.

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blog

Orban's Law, National Identity As Fear

That disturbingly flexible phrase "fear of the other" appears to be driving electoral politics around the world right now. Perhaps the intellectual center can be found in central Europe, specifically Viktor Orban's Hungary. Since taking office in 2010, the smooth-talking right-wing prime minister has been a singular voice for those who see the West as under threat from alien forces. Eyes will be on Hungary this weekend, where Orban is sponsoring a referendum that would reject European Union policy on handling the influx of migrants and refugees, relying on billboards that blame migration for the terrorist attacks in Paris and rapes in Europe.


By now, we have grown used to seeing the language and tactics of those using the fear of the other to achieve their political aims — from Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines to Donald Trump in Council Bluffs, Iowa. But in Europe, history pushes people to do some hard thinking about where all of this comes from, and where it is going. Andreas Zielcke, writing in the Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, notes how the otherwise neutral concept of "national identity" is turning sour in the face of an economic crisis and social instability in the West. "Only when national identity is threatened in the larger "collective mind" does it then become an integral part of the political agenda," Zielcke writes. "When unchallenged, national identity is an epic tale, looking towards the future. When threatened, it becomes a drama focused on the past. In the whirlpools of the refugee maelstrom it is becoming an identity that is above all about self-defense."


Polls show overwhelming support for Orban's anti-immigrant referendum. For the election result to be binding, at least half of all registered voters need to cast their ballot on Sunday. The link between fear of the other and voter turnout has never been more important.

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blog

Egeszsegedre!

The statue in front of the Tokaj-HétszÅ‘lÅ‘ cellar is a fair depiction of how I remember the visit. The Hungarian wine was indeed very good, which goes to prove that you can be French and still like foreign vintages. Egészségedre, as they say in the country!

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